Notorious Illegal Gambling Kingpin Galea Dies

Bruce Galea, a notorious illegal casino kingpin, has died at his Gold Coast home aged 84-years-old. Find out more about the colourful man.

Infamous underworld figure Bruce Galea has died aged 84. Galea was reputed to be Australia’s biggest illegal gambler throughout the 1980s. In addition, he was a close associate of George Freeman, a man with links to organised crime and the Sydney drug trade.

Galea was the son of Percival “Perce” Galea, a highly controversial figure. People called Perce the “Prince of Punters” because of his network of illegal casinos. The illegal casinos thrived during the 1970s and 1980s. Every Sydney cab driver knew of their location, but the police denied they existed despite the venues turning over the equivalent of $1 billion in today’s money.

Galea junior did not gain the same notoriety as his late father, but became Australia’s biggest illegal gambler. Parliament named him as an associate of the country’s most violent criminals. Furthermore, he stood accused of bribing police officers, including those in the force’s upper echelons.

Galea Bribed Police Officers and Politicians

Perce Galea was known for bribing key officials, and Bruce followed in his father’s footsteps. The Police Tribunal investigated allegations of corruption in 1982. Deputy commissioner of police, Bill Allen, was the focus because his lifestyle far exceeded his income.

The tribunal heard Allen enjoyed free overseas trips to Macau and Las Vegas. In addition, he enjoyed more than his fair share of gambling winnings. This drew the attention of investigators.

Allen won $4,200 betting on a 20-to-1 longshot called How Apparent. Galea, working as a bookmaker, took the bet in 1981. The betting ledger showed Allen’s bet was the last bet taken on the race. This was a common technique employed by bookies to help criminals explain the large sums of cash they had in their possession. Allen denied he knew of this practice. The police force allowed him to resign, but he headed to jail in 1991 for trying to bribe a licensing officer.

Jailed For Refusing to Testify

The 1995 Wood royal commission into police corruption brought Galea into the public domain. A corrupt police officer revealed Galea paid him $400 a week to turn a blind eye to his illegal Sydney casinos. Galea denied all claims. The gambling kingpin refused to give evidence at the royal commission. The court jailed him for two years for contempt. He served his sentence at Sydney’s Long Bay jail.

Bruce Galea was not the only member of his family spending time behind bar. His late brother Clive, in 1966, spent eight years in jail. A court found Clive, a solicitor, guilty of misappropriating thousands of dollars from his firm’s trust account.

The Tragic Murder of Kingpin’s Wife

Everyone knew Galea and his family were cash-rich. He had legitimate bookmaker businesses in the 1960s before turning to the casino trade. His family raced horses in his father’s black colours with an orange Maltese cross. The family was very wealthy.

His personal life hit the headlines in April 19974 after tragedy struck. Burglars brutally murdered his 29-year-old wife, Patricia, in an apparent bungled robbery. Patricia was living in Los Angeles at the time of her death. She hoped to open a clothing boutique. Two armed robbers stormed her West Hollywood apartment and slashed Patricia’s throat and those of five friends. The friends survived but one of the robbers shot Patricia. The burglars got away with two mink coats, $400 cash, and diamond rings. However, they missed $6,000 hidden away in the freezer.

Rumours of the murder linked to organised crime circulated but police never proved them. Police identified the killers almost immediately but did not arrest them until 2007. The 2012 trial fell apart because of lost evidence and the fact all witnesses had died.

Galea’s wake is held at Clovelly Surf Life Saving Club on February 3.